SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — The Oakland Raiders and Jacksonville Jaguars are the only two NFL teams below the 89 percent cash spending required by next year, and they are significantly under the minimum, the players’ union said Thursday.
NFL Players Association Executive Director DeMaurice Smith singled out the Oakland Raiders as being $41 million below the spending floor they must reach by March 2017. The Jacksonville Jaguars are $28 million short of the collectively bargained requirements, Smith added.
Oakland was hamstrung in its spending until this season because of contracts for former players that created “dead money” on its payroll. The Raiders should have little trouble getting up to the minimum by reworking contracts for quarterback Derek Carr and defensive star Khalil Mack.
Jacksonville has planned for 2016 and ‘17 to be heavy spending years after trying to build a base in the draft.
Early last month, Jaguars general manager Dave Caldwell said: “The philosophy is you’ve got to look, at least for us, not this year but next year. We have some very key guys on our team that are going to be free agents or going to be in their third year and able to redo their contracts.
“You have to judge, ‘How much of it can we spend this year to get us where we need to be to win championships? But how much can we do it so we can retain the guys and get them into deals that we can be good for a long period of time?’”
Smith also projected during the union’s annual Super Bowl news conference that the salary cap will rise again this year and total spending by teams to the players, including benefits, will reach nearly $200 million per franchise. As much as $40 million could go toward the benefits.
Executive committee member Matt Hasselbeck of the Indianapolis Colts emphasized that players are being “more honest” with medical personnel about their injuries.
“When I got in the league, it was a no-no to be honest with the medical professional on the sideline,” said Hasselbeck, who just finished his 17th season. “You were thought of as a wimp.
“We’ve learned as players it’s our job, everybody’s job, to take ownership of the culture of the locker room. We have to educated youngers guys, and sometimes older guys (such as coaches). Be honest with your medical personnel. Whatever we fight for, it trickles down.”
NFLPA President Eric Winston, an offensive tackle with the Bengals, was asked about complaints from coaching staffs that there isn’t enough practice time to properly prepare players. He scoffed at the idea, calling it “a cop-out.”
“If you can’t teach a young guy in 30 minutes because you only have 20 minutes, then you have to change your teaching skills,” said Winston, a nine-year veteran.
“For some reason the onus has been put on the players to learn something rapidly instead of the teacher to teach something differently. You see some teams have rookies who play well year in and year out and there’s something to that. They’re probably being taught in a different way.”
AP Sports Writer Mark Long in Jacksonville, Florida, contributed.